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5 breakout stars For Summer

Season’s movies include thrillers, dramas and more

By LINDSEY BAHR, Associated Press
Published: May 4, 2024, 5:43am
5 Photos
Clarence Maclin, right, in a scene from &ldquo;Sing Sing.&rdquo; (A24)
Clarence Maclin, right, in a scene from “Sing Sing.” (A24) Photo Gallery

A breakout moment in Hollywood can happen at any age and stage. This summer at the movies, there are plenty of talents to discover, from the formerly incarcerated man whose story inspired the film he stars in to the “It” bully whose childhood dream of playing an ape in a movie came true.

Here are five actors audiences are sure to be buzzing about this summer.

CLARENCE MACLIN IN ‘SING SING’

Clarence Maclin didn’t know he had knack for acting until he was in prison, where he found the Rehabilitation Through the Arts Program and an appreciation for Shakespeare. His experience provided the inspiration for “Sing Sing,” where he plays himself in a cast that includes Oscar nominees Colman Domingo and Paul Raci as well as a group of formerly incarcerated men.

“It almost was overwhelming when I had to go back and put the greens on again and go back into that mindset of being in prison,” Maclin, 58, said. “However the purpose of what we were doing outweighed the apprehension.”

After working on the idea for years, he loved being on set and said there were “no butterflies” when it came to acting in front of the camera. Domingo, he said, helped him appreciate the nuance that the camera can capture.

A breakout film from last fall’s Toronto Film Festival, more than a few “Sing Sing” reviews have called Maclin’s performance starmaking. He’s read them and still can’t believe it. But mostly, he’s excited to take the film on the road and get the message out.

“I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but luckily I got an opportunity to redirect and try to correct some of those,” said Maclin, who was incarcerated for more than 15 years for armed robbery. “I would like to be able to show this in every prison in the country and do a question and answer. Sometimes a little bit of hope is all you need.”

“Sing Sing” opens in limited release on July 12 and an expansion will follow in August.

JOSEPH QUINN IN ‘A QUIET PLACE: DAY ONE’

Nobody comes out of “Stranger Things” anonymously, but Joseph Quinn, who played Hellfire Club leader Eddie Munson, was a little surprised by the attention. On vacation with friends on a small island in Italy, one looky-loo in the morning multiplied into a big crowd by the end of the day. Still, not everyone knew who he was.

“The manager of the hotel was like ‘who are you’?” Quinn recalled, laughing.

But mainly it’s led to life-changing opportunities for the 30-year-old British actor who is starring alongside Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o in “ A Quiet Place: Day One “ (June 28) and later this year will be sharing the screen with Denzel Washington and Paul Mescal in “Gladiator II” (Nov. 22). He’s also been tapped to help restart the Fantastic Four franchise in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the Human Torch.

“When you go and you see ancient Rome and you see Denzel Washington inhabit it and watch Ridley Scott make a film, those things have a profound change in you,” Quinn said. “It expands your idea of what’s possible.”

But first up is the highly anticipated “Quiet Place” prequel, which focuses on a new pair of characters in New York on that first day of the invasion.

“The whole experience was great fun,” Quinn said. “I learned a lot from Lupita and the way to conduct oneself in an environment like that. She’s punctual, brave, fearless and knows exactly what she wants and what she doesn’t want.”

U.K. audiences can also see him soon in the independent film “Hoard.”

ABBEY LEE IN ‘HORIZON: AN AMERICAN SAGA’

Abbey Lee remembers being in New Mexico when she got an email from her agent saying that Kevin Costner wanted to send her a script and speak with her. The idea that Costner even knew who she was, she said, was shocking.

The project was “ Horizon: An American Saga,” his Civil War era epic about the Westward expansion in America that Warner Bros. is releasing in two parts this summer (June 28 and Aug. 16). Her character, Marigold, is a woman without a family or a home who is fighting for a better life.

“She uses sex work as a means to survive,” Lee, 36, said. “Like everyone in this film, she’s somewhat broken and worn down but she’s also a very hopeful person and a very resilient woman with a strong will to live.”

The Australia native worked as a model for years before she had a few big acting breakthroughs, notably in “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Modeling gave her opportunities to travel, and get a paycheck, but it always felt like a job, she said.

“My passion is the craft of acting,” she said. “You get to utilize not just your body, but your brain and your heart and your emotional capacity. And you keep changing and growing: Each role shifts your perspective on the world and your life.”

Filming “Horizon,” Lee fell in love with riding horses and was overwhelmed by not just the beauty of Utah but also the scope of the film.

“It’s such an epic piece,” she said.

IZAAC WANG IN “DÌDI”

Izaac Wang had been on some big films before “Dìdi,” including “Good Boys” and “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” but it wasn’t until he looked at his schedule that he realized just how big of a commitment a leading role was.

“I was like, ‘Wait, I’m working every day’?” Wang laughed. “My mom was like, ‘Yeah, you’re working every day.”

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In “Dìdi” he plays a 13-year-old Taiwanese American boy on the summer before high school in the Bay Area in 2008. The film was one of the big discoveries of the Sundance Film Festival, winning the audience award and a special jury award for its ensemble. It’s getting a theatrical release from Focus Features on July 26.

Wang was born in Minnesota, moved to Los Angeles with his family when he was 3 and started acting around age 8. While he’s thought about giving it up in the past, “Dìdi” was a turning point because it was such a fun experience. He’s considering studying theater in college too.

“I love acting in general because I get to be a goofy, silly, imaginative guy,” he said.

OWEN TEAGUE IN ‘KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES’

Unlike the other actors on this list, audiences will not see Owen Teague’s face on the big screen. Well, not exactly. He’s the star of “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” a film set many years after Caesar’s reign when the apes have become the dominant species. He plays an ape named Noa.

“I’ve wanted to play a performance capture ape since I was a little kid,” Teague said. “This was one of those auditions where I was like ‘God, I’d give anything to do this movie.’”

The 25-year-old from Tampa, Fla., got his first big break on the TV series “Bloodline,” which led to playing one of the bullies in “It” and Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ son in “You Hurt My Feelings” among other credits. Teague said he worried early on that he was only playing “bad guys.” Villains are fun, he said, but he wanted the chance to do everything.

For this movie, he went to ape school and worked closely with a movement coach so that it would feel second-nature by the time they started filming. His character, Noa, is the sheltered son of their clan’s leader who has to go on an eye-opening journey to save his family.

“There’s a lot of pressure on him to live up to his father’s expectations.” Teague said. “There’s this part of him that wants to know what’s out there.”

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